From lengthening the probate process to losing death certificates, banks don’t do a good enough job when customers die.
Being the executor of a loved one is an honor because they trust you to manage the management and division of their estate after their death.
But there’s no denying that it’s hard work too – it’s not something you do that often (hopefully) and it can be a lot of work to do at a time when you’re already distracted by your own. grief.
Unfortunately, this suffering can be compounded if the companies you are dealing with are not handling the process properly.
A study by consumer champions Which? dug into the experiences of 1,600 people about what happened to them when they acted as executors for deceased loved ones, and that makes for a grim reading, even at the best of times.
However, it appears that the pandemic has exacerbated many problems.
Takes too long
If a loved one dies, one of the jobs an executor must do is close the loved one’s bank and savings accounts. It can be incredibly stressful at an emotional time, and all too often it takes a long time to get started.
Of those who went through the pre-lockdown probate process, about one in six (17%) said it took them more than three months to close a loved one’s bank account.
It’s bad enough, but it has worsened since that initial lockdown, with a whopping four in ten (37%) whose probate began before March 2020 and continued thereafter having to wait for such a long time.
Just getting in touch with people at the bank who could handle the problem became much trickier. A measly 3% said it was difficult to contact the bank account provider before the lockdown, but that figure rose to 16% for those who had to deal with the process during and after the lockdown.
A catalog of errors
Which study? also highlighted a “catalog of mistakes” of banks when dealing with bereaved people.
About one in ten said they were dissatisfied with the skills and knowledge of the staff they dealt with, while dozens said the bank lost the death certificate after the death was first registered.
This is not only overwhelming, it can also be very costly.
A person said to what? that because her father’s death certificate was lost and the process dragged on as a result – she had to spend £ 4,000 herself to cover the funeral costs.
On top of that, his father’s investment ISA closing forms were also not sent.
He was eventually offered compensation, flowers, and a backdated payment of the investment, including lost interest.
Others said they repeatedly chased down banks to get the account effectively closed. An HSBC client, for example, received a letter to her late husband about his ISA investment months after she had already informed them of his death.
This was then followed by the sending of a new credit card after HSBC apologized and promised to update its records.
It’s important to note that there was a wide variety of people’s experiences depending on the vendors they were dealing with. Barclays and HSBC were ranked among the worst, with satisfaction levels of just 58% and 67% respectively.
In contrast, Post Office Money (86%), Nationwide (80%), and Santander (80%) all seem to do a good job for people going through tough times.
Make a difficult time worse
Let’s start by being a little understanding. I am not at all surprised that the handling of these cases deteriorated after the lockdown, as the banks had to try to adapt to the changing circumstances and inevitably there were start-up issues.
But let’s be honest, too often banks were already doing a hash of the probate process, making the same mistakes over and over again, causing distress and financial suffering to the bereaved.
The pandemic may have made things more difficult over the past year, but it cannot be used as an excuse forever. Banks need to raise their game for probate people, and they need to do it now.